Ted Lasso: Season 3, “Smells Like Mean Spirit” – TV Review

“Smells Like Mean Spirit”

  • Creators: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly
  • Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Juno Temple, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Sarah Niles

Grade: B+

Warning: Reviews of Ted Lasso season 3 will contain spoilers.

The Ted Lasso Way is under attack. Ted himself may not ever admit it, but it seems like he’s starting to doubt his methods as well. He espouses as much to Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles) at the onset of the episode and again to Coach Beard to close the episode, asking why he’s still in London after all this time. It’s been an open secret that the third season of Ted Lasso may be its last, and this would indeed serve as a way to ease the pain of the show ending, a way to give Ted a way out, even if the team doesn’t achieve its ultimate goal.

But the Ted Lasso Way is under attack from external forces as well, especially from Nate (Nick Mohammed), who’s now the West Ham United manager after his fiery exit at the end of season two. From the limited bits that we see of Nate interacting with his team, it’s clear he’s taking the exact opposite approach of Ted, bullying and demeaning his players, and doing the same – albeit just a smidge more tactfully – with the press. Much as the show has positioned Nate as the villain of the season, I still find myself not wanting him to be crushed by the onslaught of the game. 

Ted Lasso; AppleTV+

I worry that Nate’s story will play out one of two ways: he’ll find out that he’s nothing more than a pawn, a way for Rupert to get under Rebecca’s skin, or he’ll cripple under the pressure once the season gets underway and realize he’s not the Wonder Kid that he built himself up to be. Though the show has proven itself adept at taking the route less traveled, so I look forward to being proven wrong. Of course, Mohammed is the secret sauce of Smells Like Mean Spirit, continuing to show Nate’s arrogance and graveling servitude at the same time.

Even Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) is beginning to have her doubts about the Ted Lasso Way. She’s so hyper-fixated on Rupert and she’s – perhaps rightfully – concerned that Ted isn’t as worried as everyone else about where Richmond is projected to finish at the onset of the new season. It’s great to see this side of Rebecca again after she took a bit of a step back last season, much as I enjoyed the material with her and Sam (Toheeb Jimoh). Here’s hoping the writers remember what made Rebecca such an interesting character from the beginning, though I have no doubt that Waddingham will continue to be a delight – as she is here – no matter the material.

Ted Lasso; AppleTV+

One of the lingering mysteries between season two and three was in the status of Keeley (Juno Temple) and Roy (Brett Goldstein), and it seems that things took a turn for the worse in the interim. Although Keeley’s PR agency appears to be doing quite well, in spite of her weekly £200 flower expenditures. We barely spend any time with Roy in Smells Like Mean Spirit (he does have some thoughts on Hoosiers though) but I have no doubt he’ll get the spotlight soon enough. I’m reminded of where Jamie began season two, estranged from the team but back in the fold before the midway point.

In fact, I rewatched the season two premiere Goodbye Earl in preparation for this episode to see if any of the themes were evident from the start. While the show did pull a nice misdirect with the “Dr. Sharon versus Ted” angle, there’s no denying that it laid out that season’s conversation on mental health and the benefits of being open with your inner feelings. If season three is indeed the show’s last, Smells Like Mean Spirit is a good place to start, as it positions each of its main players at pivotal moments.

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